Patsy O'Hare Scanlan
Rest in Peace, Patsy...
Thoughts about Patsy:
Patsy will be tremendously missed in Saltaire. You could count on her as the “wild card” on even the most basic topic. I first got to know her when I was a kid hanging around the O’Hare house on the cove. (mid 70’s) I felt Patsy’s acceptance almost immediately which was a pretty big deal to a punky little kid like me. It made me feel special to have a big kid think I was okay. Through the years it was always the same. Be cool and you were ok with Patsy. It did not take much more than that. I cared deeply for Patsy and all of her family as well. You are in my thoughts always. GF
June 7, 2009 10:29 AM
At top: 'Patsy O'Hare Scanlan and Pam Thorp under a glorious Fire Island sky and the watchful eye of Captain Al Skinner'. taken around 1960
From the moment I met Patsy I adored her. One does not analyze relationships at 7 years old, they either are or aren’t. Over the next 10 years of my life my summers were spent in Saltaire….from the second school ended in June to the second it resumed in September I was barefoot and blissed out on the beaches, playgrounds, and boardwalks of our beloved village. And Patsy was my best friend. There are too many memories to count, and since she succumbed they have been flooding to the forefront of my brain.
Patsy and I were a performance force. We would begin rehearsals for the annual Labor Day Show early on. Just days into the summer I would call the first production meeting, held in my ‘office’, the bunkhouse. Out of those meetings emerged some of Saltaire’s most memorable theatrical moments: ‘For It Was Mary’-inspired by Patsy’s older sister; High Hopes-a number we meticulously choreographed and probably rehearsed more intensively than any Broadway show.( And I’m sure you all remember the intricate harmonies and brilliant costumes, cobbled from pillow cases.) But our tour de force was The Saltaire Beatles. By that time we were in our teens, and a powerhouse of a production team. And, in addition to producing and performing, we now added composing to our list of credits. Some of our best: ‘Eight Bikes a Week’, ‘Before This Race is Through We’re Gonna Capsize You’ and our signature song, ‘There Were Bells (In a Church)’. Sitting up high overlooking Clam Cove from Patsy’s house, we sat on rainy days and created our compositions with all the seriousness of a Lennon and McCartney.
And that brings me to the real Beatles. Patsy and I were rabid Beatlemaniacs. We wrote letters throughout one winter referring to ourselves as ‘Mrs. Harrison’ and ‘Mrs. McCartney’. No, you don’t understand—we really believed we were Mrs. Harrison and Mrs. McCartney. In August of 1964 (or was it ’65?) we departed on a morning boat along with every other 14 year old girl in Saltaire to see The Beatles at Shea Stadium. We all stayed at Patsy’s house on Wendover Road (I hope my memory retrieved the address correctly) and stayed up all night nursing our tired, teen-age throats with soup and crying into each others’ arms. Delicious adolescent madness.
And have I mentioned that Patsy almost got me sent to hell? Patsy came from a Catholic family and I was entranced by the ritual and drama of the Catholic Church. I would accompany Patsy to the Vanilla Church on some Sundays, and longed to participate in the pageant. Patsy (always willing to leap on a directorial opportunity), agreed to coach me in being a Catholic. We began with receiving Communion. Again, rehearsals were held in the bunkhouse. One afternoon, deep into the process, we were rudely interrupted by Sheila, a lovely au pair my parents had hired for the summer. Sheila was redheaded,Irish, and of course Catholic. She took one look at me with a napkin bobby- pinned to my head, kneeling and genuflecting, and at Patsy expertly mimicking a priest, and screamed, "What are you girls doing?!!!!?" Patsy temporarily silenced Sheila with, "None of your business Sheila!!!!". (She would have said ‘bitch’but she hadn’t learned that word yet.) Sheila subsequently made a good case that I would go to hell, not being a Catholic and all. Patsy, always my protector, decided that going through with this plan wasn’t such a stellar idea. It may be one of the only times I ever saw her back down but it makes perfect sense, as Patsy always guarded those she cared about like a mama lion.
Patsy always had my back. She could be abrasive and tough at times, but I recognized her vulnerability and keen sense of fairness. And she did not tolerate attacks on those she loved. And she did not spare those she loved from telling it to them straight. But the love never wavered in that department. Patsy and I have seen each other each July up until the last one, when we sat at the ocean and discussed spirituality and dealing with making it through the tribulations of life. Then she took off for her 4 o’clock tennis game, giving a last little wave before she disappeared at the top of the stairs. She left the beach that day but the bond is alive, and forever.
I could go on and on but will keep the rest of my memories and internal dialogues between Patsy and me. I’m sure we still have a lot to share. Some people just take up such a special and enduring place in one’s life, and Patsy is one of them.
I love you, Patsy. (Although I know you would probably hate that schmaltz!)
I send my deepest sympathy to Patsy’s family at this difficult time.
New York City
With Uncle Pete, 1988
With Sara at Forest Park, Queens 1976
click images to enlarge